Sepia Saturday: Of schools and tennis

Tennis Players (1920s) Unknown Subjects and Location

Sepia Saturday this week is all about imposing buildings and a very ladylike game of tennis. It seems apt therefore that it immediately brought to my mind, the Catholic High School I attended with its emphasis on ladylike behaviour – sadly I’ve let that fall by the wayside over the years.

All Hallows 1988

This photo was taken of the school in 1988, closer to when our daughters attended than when I did. At the time I was there the top floor on the right contained the concert hall which we approached by a slightly winding wooden staircase. Woe betide us if our heavy shoes made a single sound as we progressed up the floors….ladylike behaviour, remember. And in a divergence, equally heaven help us if any noise or disturbance distracted us from the speaker, play or concert that was being performed on the stage. I’ve thought since what an unfortunate training it was for the modern age where being alert to one’s surroundings can make the difference between life and death in dire circumstances. I don’t suppose the nuns could have imagined such things in the mid-1960s.

I did play on the courts in this image once or twice, goodness knows why. My tennis skills were very mediocre and I was not keen to exhibit my inadequacies to any nun or the other students who passed by.

Similarly another set of courts was directly below my classroom in Years 9 and 10. Strangely I have no memory of ever hearing the ping of tennis balls on a racquet. The prevailing sense from that classroom was the strong smell of hops from the brewery across the road, and my cousin’s teacher slamming the blackboard to the very top when she was in a cranky mood.

Hallowian 1stT 1964 p4

A sketch of the school grounds from the informal magazine, The Hallowian. There’s no indication of who the artist was. It’s certainly changed enormously since then. Nor did I know we were in the University wing.

I first learned to play tennis in late primary school. I have no real idea how that came to pass, but I imagine the local school was letter-dropped or similar, as a number of kids from my school learned on someone’s backyard court nearby for a while. Our teacher was Daphne Fancutt who had been a Wimbledon Finalist in the 1950s. As I grew a bit older I caught the bus and tram to the Fancutt courts at Lutwyche. My inadequacies certainly didn’t improve in a competitive environment and a fellow student from school was somehow teamed with me. He was a very good A-standard player, despite having to deal with the results of  polio, I on the other hand, was P for Pathetic.

While I occasionally attended (to watch!) major tennis competitions at Milton, and even have a signature in my teenage autograph book from Aussie Legend, Rod Laver, I was happy to leave tennis behind well before I left high school. In early adulthood I learned to play squash which I enjoyed much more. I’ve never been a very sporty person even though I walked everywhere until my 20s as we didn’t own a car.

I was delighted to find this 1934 painting of the All Hallows’ Convent on the State Library of Queensland website this morning. It was painted by William Bustard and published in The Queenslander newspaper.

I’ve also found that the library has two gaps in its collection of All Hallows’ annual magazine: 1941 and 1951. Since I have inherited the 1941 edition from my mother and have already scanned her class photo I’ve offered the magazine to them. Perhaps someone else has the 1951 edition.

Why not go across to see where the other Sepians have lobbed their tennis balls this week?

all Hallows' SLQ 1934

Illustrated page from The Queenslander annual, November 6, 1934, p. 23
William Bustard 1894-1973 ; Brisbane John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Sepia Saturday: Railway maintenance

Sepia Saturday 522 30 May 2020One of the things I like about Sepia Saturday is that it makes you think about how the image might relate to your family’s stories. This week’s image just didn’t ring bells for me even though there are farmers on my tree. It took until Sunday for me to have a lightbulb moment. I may have no photos of my farmers but I also have lots of railway workers who I’ve written about before.

When we travel by train we tend to give little thought to the men who built the lines or who maintain them. Both sides of my family were involved in building Queensland’s railway lines and then maintaining them. George Kunkel, my 2xgreat grandfather certainly followed the construction of the line between Ipswich and Toowoomba but the jury is out on whether he was selling meat, or actually helping with construction. His son, another George, was a railway ganger so responsible for the lengthsmen working on a particular stretch of the line. My grandfather was actually born at a railway camp outside Dalby in what can only have been pretty primitive conditions for the women, as “home” was usually a canvas tent.  On my maternal side, the men worked the line between Rockhampton and Longreach.

Railway knocking sleepers into posn Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

These were hard, physical jobs especially during the heat of a Queensland summer or the chill of an outback winter where it does indeed get cold. Hospital records at Queensland State Archives offer testimony to the hazards of the work for the men in the tropics as so many fell ill with tropical diseases.

Railway Camp The Week 21 nov 1913

If this was 1913, just imagine what life was like in the 1850s-1880s. AT HOME, RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION CAMP, LOWER BURDEKIN. (1913, November 21). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188948214

Trove also offers insights into the experiences of the men if you search by a generic phrase like “railway ganger” or” railway maintenance”. You don’t need to find you specific family name if you can gain information about their lives on the line from newspaper stories. This article gives an excellent insight into the tasks of railway maintenance. Drilling down to search for illustrated articles can provide images from the times as well. I’ve been adding stories to my list “Qld Railways” which is public.

Murphys Creek railway camp The Week Qld

No title (1912, October 18). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188916590

From my personal experience, I remember when we’d be travelling to Townsville on the Sunlander train, dad (another railwayman) would always throw out a newspaper or magazine to the men working beside the line. I remember that they’d have a lean-to and a billy on the fire, but whether they lived in tents close by or travelled on one of push-pull cars to a more distant location I just don’t know.

Railway loading ballast Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

 

Thank you to Sepia Saturday for making me think more about these men, even if it’s taken me until Monday to get my thoughts organised. You can head over to the link to see what other bloggers have dug up about their families.

railway CAMP south coast line The week 1909

My grandfather worked on this line. RAILWAY, CAMP, SOUTH COAST LINE (1909, January 15). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 25. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183689234

 

Spanish Flu and Ithaca, Brisbane

sepia Sat 1 MayThis post was inspired by this week’s Sepia Saturday theme of “I am asking you to feature your tributes to all of those who are keeping us safe at the moment by featuring your old photographs of carers of all types and all times”. Admittedly it’s now more Sepia Monday but I wanted to include my discovery of workers who supported the Spanish Flu in a suburb near where I grew up, and near where my grandparents lived at the time. I have no doctors or nurses in my own history from this time so I turned to my good friend Trove.

May 1919 seems to have been the hot-spot of infections although at this time, the deaths seems small compared to what was experienced globally.

 

Influenza deaths Courier 1919

INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC. FIVE DEATHS YESTERDAY. (1919, May 24). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 5. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20365428

Soon after this, the suburbs or town Councils started to take action to support the community as people fell ill.

Ithaca May 1919 p2 Daily Mail

WOMENS REALM. (1919, May 28). The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 – 1926), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article215133293

Ithaca gets busy pt 1 Telegraph 30 May 1919

Ithaca gets busy pt2

ITHACA GETS BUSY. (1919, May 30). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 2 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176087610

Meanwhile activity in neighbouring Enoggera gives a sense of what was happening at the grassroots level.

Enoggera Emergency Corps Flu Courier 3 June 1919

THE WOMEN’S PART. (1919, June 3). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 8. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20366895

Ithaca emergency work

Metropolitan Area. (1919, June 20). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176088512

Ithaca kitchen spanish glu

Ithaca influenza epidemic workers, July 1919. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/238947774

The summary on this photo explains: A large crowd of people who were working as volunteers during the influenza epidemic. The group includes, doctors, nurses, ladies and schoolchildren, pictured outside the Ithaca Women’s Emergency Corps kitchen.

Ithaca workers during the influenza epidemic Red Hill 1919

Ithaca workers during the influenza epidemic, Red Hill, 1919 https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/167840188

The State Library of Queensland provides this summary and explains the signs held up by the boys on the window sill: Volunteer workers outside the Ithaca Town Council Chambers during the influenza epidemic of 1919. The Brisbane area experienced an outbreak of influenza in May 1919 and it spread through hospitals in the area. Isolation huts were erected at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds to cope with the epidemic. Cards were issued by local authorities which could be put in house windows if people needed help. SOS for doctors and FOOD if needed. (Information taken from: Town of Ithaca Mayor’s Report, 1919, p. 6.)

Map Ithaca and family

Rather foolishly I hadn’t considered what the Spanish Flu Influenza meant to my ancestors who survived and who apparently remained well. They resided in the spread between the Ithaca Council Chambers (marked Ithaca Hall) and the Brisbane Exhibition Ground (blue marker), which was the influenza evacuation point. My grandfather hadn’t returned to his residence in Bally St from World War I until August 1919. His wife-to-be and her elderly mother and siblings were all living at Guildford St (red marker), fairly close to Ithaca Town Council Chambers. I wonder if we’ll ever know how the Influenza Epidemic may have affected them or their livelihoods. It’s made me realise that I need to research the impact of the epidemic on Townsville where my other grandparents lived. I already know from Trove that my great-grandparents’ house in Hughenden became an isolation hospital.

McSherry hospital Hughenden

Hughenden Notes. (1919, June 18). The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article80430142

 

How much more sedate do things look a mere year later at the Ithaca Town Council chambers.

StateLibQld_2_184327_Ithaca_Town_Council_Chambers_in_Red_Hill,_Brisbane,_1919

Ithaca Town Council Chambers 1920, 99 Enoggera Tce, Brisbane from Wikipedia.

This image is from a Sydney suburb in New South Wales but it is visually evocative of the current situation.

Kensignton nursesE00025

Image shows the influenza team at the Kensington School of Arts during the influenza epidemic of 1919. With the team is a blackboard listing the nurse, cooks and others on the team. Randwick City Library https://randwick.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_GB/search/asset/15848/0

Volunteer Air Observer Corps

V2020Today is Anzac Day Down Under and many genealogy bloggers from Australia and New Zealand will be writing about their families’ military history. This year I was inspired to write about my mother’s (Joan McSherry) civilian service during the war, after listening to an excellent talk from Caloundra Family History member, Ian Edwardson via Zoom. Sometimes we focus so much on members of the military forces that we forget that civilian life continued on the home front and many people contributed to support the military in some way. As my direct line family members were railway workers, they were regarded as essential services and so did not join the forces. It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud when it comes to Anzac Day services. When they called for experienced railway workers to service the trainlines at the Western Front in World War I, my paternal grandfather, Denis Kunkel, enlisted in late 1917. You can read his story here.

Volunteer Air Observer Corps

My mother’s service was civilian but with military overtones. She joined the Volunteer Air Observer Corps (VAOC) when she was about 16, or close to 17. She served with them for two years until the end of the war. I’ve read that there were interviews and tests before people were admitted but Mum doesn’t recall this and says she joined after seeing an advertisement – perhaps the one included here? The purpose of the VAOC was to monitor the skies for enemy aircraft and alert the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) if they were seen. Recruitment for the VAOC was undertaken through the Women’s Air Training Corps (WATC) and it was through this organisation that observers were trained to identify different types of Japanese aircraft based on profile, engines etc. The training was done at Archerfield aerodrome in Brisbane’s south-west. The WATC was also regarded as a training ground for women who later might wish to join the WAAAF, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Airforce. Goodness, all these acronyms – it might even be the military!

WATC VOAC Telegraph 17 Nov 1942 p4

Aircraft Recognition Classes (1942, November 17). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 4 (CITY FINAL LAST MINUTE NEWS).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172597476

Perhaps unsurprisingly (because it’s about the women after all and they were civilians), it’s hard to find detailed information. There is a book about the VAOC that looks pertinent but it’s in the Queensland State Library, and so currently in lockdown. So, turning to Trove (again) is the solution. In addition to which I’ve tried to pick Mum’s memory and that of a friend who was also in the VAOC.

These are Mum’s words which she’d written down a while ago:

Volunteer Air Observers had to have a thorough knowledge of all types of Japanese planes. You went to a beautiful old home on the hill in the Clayfield (a suburb of Brisbane), overlooking Eagle Farm Aerodrome, then the only one in Brisbane. Archerfield was the Air Force base. This beautiful home had a particular area, separate to the house, which was laid out with required facilities for observing. This included a pair of binoculars to watch the airport and a telephone. If a Japanese plane landed at the airport (or presumably was sighted), you immediately notified Head Quarters via the phone set up in the room.

In conversation Joan told me that she’d catch the tram from Buranda to Clayfield every Sunday after Mass, then walk up the hill to the house, and would be on duty for two hours. It must have been tiring peering out through binoculars or looking at the sky consistently for two hours. Fortunately, they were spared the anxiety of an enemy aircraft, though as the North was bombed in 1942, it must have seemed entirely possible. Mum would be dressed in civvies when “spotting”, not her uniform, which would only be worn for meetings or special events. When she was promoted to sergeant, she was required to wear her khaki uniform for these events.

WAAAF Staff room

In a W.A.A.A.F. Staff Room (1942, February 19). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 5 (Second Edition). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172698162

The WATC held a stall on Saturday morning selling a variety of things including small hand-made toys. This raised money for the free lunches they served to the WAAAFs at a canteen at Old Courier House (corner of Queen and Edward, which is now a bank, I think). A special relaxation area had been fitted out and made available for the WAAAF women when off duty – a place to just relax. Mum’s friend, Donna, who was a bit younger and hadn’t been trained to do the plane spotting was very involved in this side of the activities of the WATC.

Apart from learning about identifying planes, mum also went out to Archerfield to see some of the WATC work there and learn a little about motor car engines. We didn’t own a car until the late 1960s so it’s a shame she never got to put that to use.

It wasn’t all work and no play. Occasionally the WATC and VAOC would have balls or dances to raise funds. They also had some picnics and we’re lucky enough to have a couple of photos taken at one of these. The WATC celebrated their 5th Birthday week from 9th-15th July 1944 and Mum has a souvenir booklet from the day on which there are many signatures including that of the Queensland Commandant, Yvonne Jones, and Australian flying ace, Nancy Bird Walton, who was the Australian Commandant . I wonder if any of my readers will recognise the names of any of the women who also signed. Two of mum’s long term friends are included in the list, Joyce and Donna.

On 15 August 1945, Victory in the Pacific Day, when the war ended for Australia, there was great excitement in Brisbane and mum and her friend were allowed to leave work to go and celebrate. Dad was less fortunate, as the shift workers were required on duty and missed out on the day’s exuberance.

family scan091 (2)

Found in mum’s autograph book. I wonder if she entered it on VP Day. 3 dots and a dash mean the letter V  in morse code.

 

jol-files-2015-08-vpday

Brisbane people will see the humour of this: the City Hall celebrating joyfully.

After the war finished, life returned to normal, but Mum missed the verve of those years. They were given a celebration at Victoria Barracks after the war, but apparently it wasn’t written up in the paper. How rarely does Trove let me down?

KUNKEL Joan WATC reunion

Joan receiving her “Australia Remembers” certificate: L to R: Y McComb King, Senator Parer, Nancy Bird Walton, Joan Kunkel wearing badges of both the WATC and VAOC.

In December 1995, surviving members of the WATC were invited to a morning tea at the United Services Club in Brisbane to receive an “Australia Remembers” commemorative certificate for serving with the WATC during the war years. The event was hosted by Senator Warwick Parer[i],  Mrs Yvonne McComb King (formerly Jones) and Mrs Nancy Bird Walton were honoured guests and co-hosts. Both Mum and her friend Donna were able to attend, and I was surprised to discover when reading the advertisement for the event, that mum had been a sergeant, which she had never mentioned previously.

You can click on any of the images to make them large enough to read.

family scan023

An example of the VAOC from the Australian War Memorial.

VOAC AWM 4085497

 

 

[i] Liberal Senator for Queensland and Shadow Minister for Tourism, Aviation and Customs.

Uniforms and uniformity

U2020It will seem strange in some countries that our otherwise obstreperous country is not averse to uniforms in schools. (Mind you we also don’t venerate those who wear uniforms either).

I’m very grateful that when I went to school, both primary and secondary, I wore a uniform every day. State run primary schools didn’t always have uniforms, though they do more often these days. State high schools were much more likely to require a uniform to be worn. As I went to a private Catholic school, we were only allowed to wear uniforms and to a proper standard, at that. What did uniforms offer us?

Pauleen at primary school c1959

At primary school, perhaps about aged 9 or 10. I can still feel the texture of that tie. Can you see my right eye has two shades?

  • A sense of solidarity (and the obverse, the alienation of others, isn’t something I favour)
  • No opportunity for status plays by labelled/expensive clothes
  • A uniformity of style and identity among those who wear the uniform
  • No need to think about what to wear every day
  • A sense of pride in your school, its history and its achievements
  • And when travelling on the bus you knew which boys went to which school <smile>
  • Our school had a fairly modern uniform, for the time, and responds to changing fashion unlike some schools which have maintained the same uniform for generations.
  • The downside was that past pupils recognised your school and if you were not wearing your gloves or hat, or were generally being unruly, you would be reported quick smart – these days I sometimes roll my eyes when I see how current pupils are dressed but I’m not into dobbing them.
  • These days, my school offers what they call ‘plain clothes days’ and the girls who choose to do this have to pay a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) towards a particular charity. Sadly, there are always those girls who want to display their designer wear on these days, or at school fetes.

Think of all the other places were uniforms are worn: military, police, doctors, nurses, sports, clubs, some shops and restaurants, men in suits at conferences….

When I was 13, I would come visit my aunt and uncle in New York. I decided I wanted to live with them after seeing my cousin’s school. Honestly, I just wanted to go to a school where I didn’t have to wear uniforms, and my mom said okay. Priyanka Chopra, Indian actress.

Here is my photo journal of some uniforms that have been worn in my families.

My dad at primary school, aged about 9 or 10 and (right) in his railway uniform as a young man. He had to wear blue serge trousers and jacket throughout the year, with a blue shirt. He would have funny anecdotes about how drivers would suddenly behave on the road because they thought he was an off duty policeman.

Uniforms weren’t required at his primary state school. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to not wear shoes – it was the sub-tropics after all and it was also the time of the Depression. Grandma made sure dad was spick and span in a white shirt (back row). Kelvin Grove state school c1930.

Kelvin Grove State School children c1930

Kelvin Grove State School children c1930

As you can see below things were different at my primary Catholic school not far from Kelvin Grove…a fair degree of uniformity evident, with minor variations. St Joan of Arc, Herston c1956.

St Joan of Arc

This photo includes at least two classes from my primary school. c1956

My mother’s First Communion class had a certain uniformity – they were plainly required to dress to a certain standard. She made her communion at St Mary’s Church, Townsville on 18 June 1933.

Joan McSherry 2nd girl rt front

By the time mum was at high school at St Pat’s in Townsville, the uniforms were plainly rigorously enforced. It struck me looking at this, how much my cousin looks like my mother as well as her own. Mum had blonde hair here while my Aunty Bonnie had red hair.

Joan McSherry St Pats TSV back left

When mum moved to Brisbane from Townsville, she attended the same school that I would late attend and subsequently our daughters. Interesting to see the change of uniforms.

Joan Kunkel AHS 1941

All Hallows’ School, Junior (Year 10) Class. Mum is 4th from right in second front row.

At high school: I did occasionally change my hair, and look demure. Unlike boys’ schools we all wore the same uniform and didn’t have honour blazers for sport or prefects. 1966

Pauleen a prefect at AHS

I went to a Catholic school, so of course we had to wear uniforms. My only form of expression was in shoes and the style of my hair. Camille Guaty, American actress.

Actually we had no choice in shoes, and our hair had to be above the collar, and above all, tidy.

I even wore a uniform at the weekends when I attended the Girl Guides at Newmarket.

 

SCAN0821

We have no photos of Mr Cassmob’s primary school classes or uniforms, but this is one from when he attended Nudgee Junior as a young lad.

43 Peter Cass Nudgee uniform Jan 1960 at Essendon

Before the family moved to Papua New Guinea, Mr Cassmob’s father was an educator with the Royal Australian Air Force. I think this photo of him sharing his uniform cap is so cute and plainly so did the small boy while his sister looks a bit indignant.

My mother-in-law’s school plainly also had stringent rules for their uniforms.

63 prob Kaye Edwards 3rd fm Left 1940s

While the war years were confronting, they also had some side benefits. My O’Brien/Garvey cousins in Sydney got to meet their Garvey cousins from the USA when the US troops were stationed there.

SCAN1590

Well, the thing about my high school, which I loved, is that we had uniforms. But whenever we had a free dress day, it was prep-ville, with sweater vests and polo shirts and khakis and Dockers. Vanessa Lachey, American entertainer.

So what’s your vote? Are you in favour of uniforms or not? Do they make daily life easier or suppress individuality?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NATURE’S GLORY and DRAMA           

My 2020 Gratitude vision board has several pictures of the beauty of nature and especially flowers, which I love. I’m very grateful for the magnificent scenery where we live. When we lived in the Northern Territory I loved being out on the open road with vast spaces to the horizon. The grandeur of the Wet Season skies and the drama of the thunder and lightning.

It’s easy to forget that nature has two sides of the same coin – beauty and grandeur and the fierce threat of more dramatic weather events like this season’s devastating fires in Australia, or floods, or fire, or drought. It’s hardly surprising that one of our national poets, Dorothea Mackellar, captured this so well.

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains

Of rugged mountain ranges

Of drought and flooding rains

I love her jewel sea

Her beauty and her terror

The wide brown land for me

DSC_0099

There were no roads cutting a swathe through the country, no X marks the spot in the sky. The early pioneers relied on learning their environment and following cuts in the trees along the way…their lives depended on their success.

ANCESTORS and NATURE

I often wonder how our immigrant ancestors coped with the vast differences from their homeland, what Mackellar refers to as “The love of field and coppice, Of green and shaded lanes, Of ordered woods and gardens, Is running in your veins”.

Bullock dray 1898 QSAIt seems inevitable they must have found the upside-down seasons, the severe heat (in those dresses!), the weather extremes and the sheer open spaces to be fierce, or perhaps even frightening. How did they learn to navigate their way through native bush with no formed roads?  My 2xgreat grandfather, Denis Gavin had to navigate his way to the market with the wool clip when driving drays from Binbian Downs near the Condamine soon after he arrived in Queensland. Or the Bavarian immigrants sent to the bush to be shepherds on isolated stations (think ranches). No longer part of a small village community to be alone or with two or three others….it drove some to take their own lives.

Did they learn to love the country as they learned to grown crops and plant orchards under such different conditions? My Kunkel ancestors called their property Valley View. Vastly different from Mary O’Brien Kunkel’s view in County Clare, or George Kunkel’s view in Dorfprozelten. Did they look out at the sunrise and learn to love the grey of the gum trees, the laugh of the kookaburra and enjoy seeing other indigenous wildlife, birds, and bush. They were certainly wise to select land adjoining a then-well-flowing creek so it would take time before the perils of drought would affect them.

Valley view home Kunkel

And what of my (Mc)Sherry great-grandparents fresh off the ship from Ireland and off to work constructing railway lines in the heat of Queensland’s outback. It’s mind-boggling really and gives me a deep respect for what they did and gratitude for their hard work, courage and example.

NATURE’S FEROCITY

My ancestors may have eluded the fear of Famine but the ferocity of Australian weather must have sometimes tested their faith.

McSHARRY John drowned Morning Bulletin 8 Mar 1887

The Morning Bulletin, ROCKHAMPTON. (1887, March 8). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52067794

The family of James and Bridget (Mc)Sharry/Sherry  arrived with eight of their children in central Queensland in 1883 and paid a high price for their decision. Within only six years, three of the children had died, two from what might be called events of nature. Their daughter Margaret McSharry/Sherry died in Rockhampton in 1884, aged 12, of shock from burns. The newspapers are silent on what caused the burns but most likely a kitchen accident. Son John McSharry/Sherry, aged 19, attempted to cross the flooded Claude River in March 1887 while working as a labourer on/near Mantuan Downs station. As a young Irish-born lad it’s extremely unlikely he could swim so attempting this was rather foolish and he paid the price. The inquest gave me more complete details.

 

Floodwaters rise in the heart of Ipswich January 1887

Unidentified (1887). Floodwaters rise in the heart of Ipswich, January 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

On 22 January 1887, the Queensland town of Ipswich was deluged by a severe flood. Some said it was the worst in European memory, others that it was only exceeded by the 1864 flood. At the time of the 1887 flood, my ancestor, Stephen Gillespie Melvin, had a confectionery store in Ipswich as well as various other business interests. Trove documents that “The (Bremer) River was in flood, and Melvin, who had been assisting to remove goods from a store (his?) which was surrounded by water, got into the vortex on the edge of the roaring current. Livermore swam out at great risk, took Melvin by the collar, and brought him back to the building in safety. The current was running very strong. Awarded a bronze medal.” Thomas Shadrach Livermore had saved Stephen’s life – and meant that I am here today, as my grandmother was born in 1888. Even though Stephen had been a merchant seaman in early years it’s highly likely he couldn’t swim at all.

 

 

Annie Kunkel spoke of a fierce storm that occurred while she was a schoolgirl at Murphy’s Creek[i]:

 

Hailstorm murphys creek 1915 Telegraph

Hail storm (1915, December 11). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 7. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177194730

I’ll never forget the time of the big hailstorm. Oh it was terrific, it was our break up picnic, there’d been a drought I think….Terrific storm came, we were alright in the morning. Oh, we were all huddled in that old school and this terrible storm, and I think the windows were smashing round us and everything and the poor horses were over in this paddock. I can remember seeing them. There wasn’t much in the way of shelter from trees or anything. It was something to remember. And then this terrific flood came down. You know that old railway bridge over from the school, that old wooden railway bridge, it might have been replaced since, but it was pretty high. But Les Handley walked that with a raging flood underneath it to go home round through the paddocks to tell his mother that they were alright. It had been shocking, shocking. The railway man had to come to shovel the hail away from the doors of the hotel and some of the houses before people could get in.

 

Annie had a remarkable memory and whenever I’ve checked what she’s told me it’s been proven to be accurate. The Daily Standard described four feet of ice at Murphy’s Creek railway station from this storm.

 

Murphys Creek drought Bne Courier 24 Apr 1877 p3

Telegraphic. (1877, April 24). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1363085

George and Mary Kunkel had been half-way through paying off their land selection when a drought hit. They must have been so grateful to have had the Fifteen Mile Creek as a boundary to their property. As with Australia more broadly periods of drought followed by heavy storms and flooding, or cyclones in the north, seem to be almost inevitable.

 

Almost all of my ancestors had property affected by fires but not attributable to nature but rather to the hazards of open fires or the flammability of the buildings. The bush fire (below) which raged through the Murphys Creek area occurred after George Kunkel had died but his widow and sons and family were still living in the area.

Bushfire M Ck Dec 1918 p5 DDG

BIG BUSH FIRE. (1918, December 6). Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 – 1922), p. 5. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176354338

With my McSherry families living in Central and North Queensland there’s no doubt they’d have experience the wrath of a cyclone or two in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, I can’t find a news story that mentions them. However, when I was a youngster holidaying at Magnetic Island off Townsville we were caught in Category 4 Cyclone Agnes as it roared through the area at 89 mph or 143kph. Dad always said that the gauge at Garbutt had snapped with the force of the wind, so perhaps the speed reached was even higher.  I wrote about the experience here.

There’s little doubt that our Aussie ancestors had to be resilient when encountering nature.

What natural events did your ancestors experience in their lifetimes? Did it have a long-term effect on their well-being or their economic survival?

 

Cyclone Agnes TSV Central Qld Herald 1956

WINDS REACH 89 MILES AN HOUR TOWNSVILLE STRUCK BY CORE OF CYCLONE (1956, March 8). The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956), p. 6. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79261437

 

 

[i] Conversation with Cameron McKee, Murphy’s Creek local historian, c1984.

Love and the Law

L2020What the world needs now is love, sweet love[i]… Perhaps that’s more true than usual in these uncertain times of a pandemic. However, we’d probably mostly agree it’s what all of us hope for in our lives, whether it’s platonic, passionate, familial or of friends. Certainly, in my own life one of the key gratitudes I have is for the love I’ve received from Mr Cassmob, my family and my friends. Love makes life so much richer. The rosy glow of early courtship may pass but with luck the love continues and a happy life ensues – not one without its ups and downs, but overall satisfying.

Peter and Pauleen leaving wedding

Love’s young dream, still going strong after 50 years, despite the ring fidgeting.

When researching our family history we often start looking for marriages to follow the ancestral lines of those who begat us. For me, that’s the bare bones of genealogy – the framework on which we pin the names and dates of those who’ve been pivotal to us being on earth. What comes next is building up the stories that we find until we get some sense of them as people. It seems strange in some ways to think of them in that first dizzy dose of love, but one assumes that they probably felt much as we did when it happened to us. Some cases may have been pragmatic decisions of religious or personal compatibility, financial stability, loneliness and distance from family and those factors may have played a part in their relationship. Unfortunately, without a diary or journal we have no way of getting an insight into their love. So, we are left looking at the photographic newspaper records of the wedding and the celebrations by friends and family. Longevity of marriage might be relevant, but not necessarily an indication of love’s endurance.

Wedding at Murphys Creek low

This 1910 wedding of one of George & Mary’s grandchildren was held at their home at Murphy’s Creek. William Kunkel is the young lad on the left. This family had lost both parents within six weeks in late 1901. Photo kindly provided by a family member from this branch.

Love falls apart

Unfortunately, the anticipated happiness and compatibility doesn’t always happen, love disappears, and the marriage falls apart. Desertion, domestic abuse, bigamy or divorce may follow. In the earlier days of “blame game” divorce, the story of a marriage’s disintegration was played out in court and in public through the newspaper coverage. Trove certainly brings all the lurid details to light, but we do have to be careful when researching these stories, especially if you don’t know which of the local newspapers are likely to be scurrilous or salacious. It always pays to read each and every news article to distil the data and the anomalies. Let me give you one example from my extended family.

Agnes Kunkel Truth 13 Jan 1929

DRAMA OF LOVE (1929, January 13). Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 13.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198312619

Agnes Eileen Cronin[ii] married William Thomas Kunkel on 27 October 1915 at Toowoomba: she was 19 and he was 23. The marriage apparently fell apart and Agnes left the home in 1921, relocated to Brisbane and changed her name to Dorothy Edwards. She subsequently bigamously married a man called David Scott telling him she’d been born in Toronto, Canada (not Queensland), and her father was James Edwards, perhaps to explain why she would have no kin at the marriage. Kunkel filed for divorce in early 1929 and it came before the court in April 1929.

Anyone from Brisbane knows the reputation of the old “Truth” newspaper which definitely falls into the scurrilous category. The reporting was sensational bordering on hysterical. The defendant’s barrister claimed that Agnes had been forced to marry William when she was 15 and that he was 20 years older, as well as making assertions about his character and behaviour[iii].

Other newspapers carried more considered reports of the trial but one of the interesting things, to me, is that William’s photo was used in many of the articles. It was if he was the one under judgement and not his wife being tried for bigamy and desertion. Different reporters focused on some different points or added extra from the trial that had not already been reported. In a strange twist to the tale, Agnes’s mother even defended her son-in-law saying that he’d never known him to strike his wife and that the separation had arisen from money matters.

W T Kunkel divorce Telegraph 30 Juy 1929

Kunkel Divorce (1929, July 30). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182979161

After much to-ing and fro-ing, including referral to the Attorney General, the divorce was resolved in William’s favour. The couple’s respective ages at marriage were formally recognised by the court and Justice Macrossan acknowledged that William’s reputation had suffered as a result of the mis-reporting[iv]. The decree nisi absolute was confirmed in November 1929 and soon afterwards William remarried. Both Agnes and William must have been relieved to have this behind them and for their “dirty linen” to no longer be broadcast through the news and a general topic of conversation in the community. I can find no reference to Agnes after the divorce under the surnames of Cronin, Kunkel, Edwards or Scott, nor any trees on Ancestry. I wonder what her daughter was called and where they went to live after the divorce. Did Agnes change their name again?

I suppose I’m a tad biased myself and feel for William, one of my grandfather’s younger brothers. He lost both parents within six weeks in 1901 when he was only a lad of nine. Later his son Robert would be Missing in Action in Korea, never to know what had happened to him.

While Rod Stewart’s advice on the matter of love and the law is pertinent to this case, perhaps it’s not very wise:

Only a fool permits the letter of the law to override the spirit in the heart. Do not let a piece of paper stand in the way of true love and headlines. Rod Stewart, Scottish musician.

When you discover something like this through Trove, it is worth following up in the official documentation of the court[v] and the judge’s notebooks[vi] where they have survived. I’ve done this with my grandmother’s divorce following the story in the news but more importantly in the trial documents.

The departure of love and the involvement of the law is sad and can be a human tragedy. We need to feel empathy for our family members and treat their misfortunes with respect.

Have you seen examples of great love, or the loss of it, in your ancestral families?

Have you acquired a list for post-isolation research, as I have, while doing your A to Z challenge or reading?

——————————–

Quotes from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/

[i] A popular song from 1965 with lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach. First recorded and made popular by Jackie DeShannon

[ii] Birth and marriage registered as Agnes Lillian Cronin, daughter of James Patrick Cronin and Helen/Ellen Leonard.

[iii] DRAMA OF LOVE (1929, January 13). Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 13. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198312619

[iv] HEART-BROKEN MOTHER SPEAKS AGAINST DAUGHTER (1929, August 4). Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 11. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article203921305

Also Kunkel Divorce (1929, July 29). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 6 (5 ‘O CLOCK CITY EDITION). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182975879

[v] Item ID 1669670, Queensland State Archives, Kunkel v Kunkel, Court transcript (Civil), shorthand. Also Item 1669639, Court transcript (Civil) (hopefully not shorthand!) Also Item 1669757.

[vi] Series 18554 at Queensland State Archives. Also Item ID 99975, Judge H Macrossan notebooks 1927-1929.

Inspiration and Influence of Immigrants

I2020Without a doubt, we all owe a debt of gratitude to our immigrant ancestors, because without their courage either we would not be here or our lives would be completely different. There are many characteristics we might associate with them: integrity, inspiration, intelligence, independence or initiative. Unless they were “doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs”, as the old saying goes, it’s easy to assume they had little influence on the world. However, looked at more closely, they often did. Perhaps not in grand ways in court or parliament or medical discoveries or military achievements, but in more nuanced ways that affected the communities they lived in and perhaps the broader community.

I think this was particularly the case with immigrants who arrived in a new colony where the social infrastructure was minimal. They had it within their capacity to make changes that would last over the decades. My roots are firmly established in Queensland. Eight of my direct ancestors arrived in the mid-1850s, before the Moreton Bay Colony separated from New South Wales in 1859, becoming the colony of Queensland. Another three, great-grandparents, were born here before 1859. This meant they could play a fundamental role in building up their communities over time. While none of these influences were earth-shattering or headline news, an excavation of the news stories on Trove lets me get a sense of their more pragmatic and subtle influences.

ANCESTRAL INFLUENCES

Community societies

McSherry HACBS 1892 Longreach

IN AND ABOUT LONGREACH. (1892, August 31). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52434728

My McSherry/McSharry ancestors were heavily involved with the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society (HACBS) and were lifelong members wherever they lived. My great-grandfather Peter McSherry was a founding member and Treasurer of the HACBS in Longreach.

 

 

Peter’s son, James McSherry, was also involved as an active member and position holder through his life. Back when I first started my family history I wrote to the society in Brisbane to see what information they might hold, and to my delight was given some of his sashes that had been stored there long past his death.

HACBS sash 1 Treasurer

One of my grandfather’s Hibernian sashes, usually embroidered with his name and position on the reverse.

Similarly, R Kent was an inaugural member of the Hope of Ipswich tent of the Independent Order of Rechabites. What we don’t know is whether this was my 3xgreat grandfather, Richard Kent, or his son.

R Kent Rechabites

IN THE LODGE ROOM. (1937, November 13). Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 7 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article124599676

Employment Influences

My maternal grandfather, J J McSherry, was an active member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) as evidenced by newspaper advertisements.

JJ McSherry ALP meeting

Advertising (1926, March 5). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60933771

He also put his name forward for election as an ALP candidate (he was unsuccessful).

JJ McSherry ALP election

Advertising (1927, April 8). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60801596

And then he was also active as the Queensland Railway Union secretary….was he ever home I wonder?

JJ McSherry sec QRU

MASS MEETING AT THE THEATRE. (1914, August 1). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60088103

Meanwhile my paternal grandfather, D J Kunkel, also served with railway associations as a young man.

DJ Kunkel rep

RAILWAY APPEAL BOARD. (1909, February 23). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 5. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19564874aption

D J Kunkel deputation

RAILWAY DEPARTMENT. (1909, June 28). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 2. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176131985

 

 

 

 

When you touch the life of a man of this generation, that influence is felt through generations yet to come. Gordon B Hinckley, clergyman

Cultural and Sporting Influences

P McSherry Longreach brass band

Longreach Brass Band. (1900, February 13). The Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), p. 13. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75675420

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned about my McSherry ancestors was their engagement in what might be called cultural activities. Peter McSherry was the bandmaster for the Longreach Brass Band conducting the band and teaching pupils to play. Even my mother was astonished as this involvement with music was unknown to her entirely, and yet her father was also secretary to the Townsville Railway Band. Newspapers can reveal so many unexpected stories.

 

JJ McSherry railway band

Advertising (1915, March 2). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60070694

My McCorkindale kin brought the sounds of Scotland to Australia with their piping and Highland dance as well as engagement with Highland Societies and Burns Club. My grandmother’s brother, Duncan McCorkindale, was an early member in Canberra and judged some of the competitions. His brothers, Peter and Malcolm competed throughout Queensland and Peter also performed on radio and volunteered with various charity performances.

D McCorkindale judge Canberra

Canberra Burns Club (1925, February 1). Federal Capital Pioneer (Canberra, ACT : 1924 – 1926), p. 5. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36247214

While I knew of the family’s Highland traditions I was surprised to discover that D McCorkindale was also involved with soccer in early Canberra…perhaps it was his son, my grandmother’s nephew.

McCorkindale D soccer Canberra

PLAYED BY 43 NATIONS (1927, March 31). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), p. 4. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1212118

Political and Civic Influences

If we look to the heart of the nation’s capital, what could be more pivotal than being involved with the construction of Old Parliament House. Duncan McCorkindale was Foreman of the Joiners’ Workshop for the Federal Capital Commission. Perhaps if you’ve visited, you’ve touched some of his work, or that of the men he supervised.

My 2xgreat grandfather, George Mathias Kunkel, was actively involved in civic matters from the early days, voting in elections and also signing petitions for a variety of topics from one to support Ipswich becoming a municipality to objecting to Johann Heussler as Continental Immigration Agent for Queensland.

But by far, the one I’m most impressed by is the signature of Hannah Partridge (nee Kent, my 2xgreat grandmother) on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union petition for female suffrage in Queensland. From my searches, none of my other male or female ancestors had signed the petition, either by intent or circumstance. See https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/explore/history/suffrage/Signatories

Hannah Partridge petition suffrage

The Women

While this story has focused on the men in my family line and how they’ve influenced their society, we cannot ignore the women. The men may have been in the public domain “making a difference” but the women were home, taking care of the family and influencing their children, and so society, in a more indirect but no less significant way. They were also often catering for and promoting the activities their menfolk were engaged with. It’s obvious that their husbands would not have been able to be involved with public life without the vast support of the “hand that rocks the cradle”.

What have you found out about your family’s influence, great or small?

Gratitude for Health

H2020One of the most important things we can be grateful for is the gift of good health. Not everyone is so fortunate, but my DNA health inheritance has been predominantly healthy. Those health issues which I have had to deal with have been responsive to good medical care – how very grateful we can be in Australia to have an excellent health system. It may have some glitches, but it’s available to everyone – another source for gratitude.

I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for, and that’s the clarity of understanding that the most important things in life are health, family and friends, and the time to spend on them. Kenneth Branagh, Irish actor.

 

Health is the hot topic of the moment as the world responds to the covid-19 pandemic. With a collaborative political strategy and increasingly, a sound community response, Australia seems to be flattening the curve, touch wood. One of the sacrifices we’re making is forfeiting gatherings with family and friends – what a “knees up” we’ll have when it’s all over.

All of which evokes the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, also called the “Spanish flu”. Of course I looked at my own ancestors to see how they were affected.

Ancestors and the “Spanish flu”

McSherry hospital Hughenden

Hughenden Notes. (1919, June 18). The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article80430142

Two of my women ancestors died during this period but because of their age, it’s hard to be sure whether the Spanish flu had been a factor. Mary O’Brien Kunkel died at the Fifteen Mile in January 1919 and the cause of death on her certificate was “old age”.  Mary was about 83 years old and she had not seen a doctor.

Hannah Partridge nee Kent died in Ipswich on 13 December 1918 of acute pneumonia which she’d had for four days. The doctor had seen her on 12 December but it’s possible that the diagnosis was general. Hannah was 82 years old.

Thanks again to Trove, I learned that my great-grandparents’ railway house in Hughenden was used as Infection Ward 1 during the Spanish flu. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to follow the story forward to learn any more, such as where Peter and Mary McSherry lived during this period, surely not in the Isolation Hospital?  In the image below I suspect the higher house might be the one referred to as Mr McSherry’s house ie the #1 Infection Ward because of other references that it was near the shunting yards. When the world returns to normal again, I really need to prioritise seeing what I might discover in the Queensland State Archives about the hospital and the ward.

Hughenden railway yards

Handwritten on back: “H’den Historical Society // Railway Yard // Hughenden // No. [164] V75 // 1938 // Taken from the Royal // Hotel verandah // Dist. Supt. House in background // (high one) // Aussie Hotel right at back // Con. Bianchi” https://ehive.com/collections/4002/flinders-shire-historical-collection. Sourced through https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/196960568

Cause of death and longevity

Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it. Lucius Annaeus, Seneca, Roman statesman.

Helen Smith of Dragon Genealogy always emphasises the benefits of doing a health chart for your ancestors with causes of death and the person’s age. Have you ever done one for your family? I wrote mine up a while ago and you can read my blog post here. I’m pretty lucky to have a heavy weighting of longevity in my tree, so I’m not quite ready to be an expendable elderly or “vintage” casualty of covid-19.

Have you been fortunate with your health inheritance?

Longevity percentage

Health chart Dads line

Of cats and Callaghans at Courtown

Cottages Courtown Harbour edited

The mudmap sketch from the 1847 Quarto books, renumbered over time.

Well it has taken me an age to revisit my research discoveries from Ireland in September last year. One of my first research stops in Dublin was a flying visit to the Valuation Office to look at one of my favourite record sets – the Cancellation or Revision books from Griffith’s Valuation. I’d visited before on different trips but this time my focus was on unravelling those Callaghans from Courtown. As I didn’t have long, I focused (haha) on photographing all the relevant pages from the Courtown Harbour Revision lists.

I’ve mentioned previously that the first Griffith’s Valuation in 1853 showed an Anne Callaghan (at house #17)  and a John Callaghan (at house # 6) both living in Courtown Harbour in the new housing constructed for the town’s fishermen by John Oughton. I knew from earlier research approximately where this part of the village was located, so when we arrived on the ground in Courtown, we set forth on an exploration of the area.

Courtown 20160910_145629

Spoiler alert – the cat made me do it – outside either house #17 (Anne Callaghan) or #16 (David Callaghan)

Unfortunately I didn’t know, at the time, how those numbers translated on the ground so I satisfied myself with taking photographs. As we walked down one side of the cottages I spotted a black and white cat which needed a short pat (I’m sure other pet owners do this sort of thing too). Being in a small place this inevitably attracted some interest and the owner came out to say g’day and generally suss out what we were doing. I explained I was trying to find anything about the Callaghan families who’d lived there in the 19th and early 20th centuries, not long ago at all <smile>.

20160910_152921 Patrick Callaghan

The photo of Pat Callaghan and Kate nee Dunbar, generously shared with me.

It was my lucky day as apparently this had come up not long before in relation to some property arrangement. We were taken off to meet an older gentleman who would know all about it. We found him in the nearby park. A short discussion ensued and we both recognised the story of Pat Callaghan who’d drowned near Dublin. We were invited to his place for a cup of tea and biccies so we could see a photo that he held of Pat and his wife, Kate Callaghan. We had a lovely chat about a variety of topics, but it still wasn’t clear what the connection might be to the Callaghans, if any. When visiting Ireland it always seems imperative to ensure people don’t think you’re after the land, farm or house, so I tend to be over-polite.

On our way back to the car we went via the original lady’s house and thanked her for her assistance and were invited to come back again. Of course, travel being what it is, we had commitments elsewhere and didn’t make it back.

So what of all this sideways chatting and its relevance to my research?

Original mudmap Pauleen

My own mudmap of the village, based on the original house book numbers,  1846.

Well my sleuthing through the valuations books has left me with a clear idea of where John Callaghan and widow Ann Callaghan lived, as well as my ancestor David Callaghan. I retain the conviction/assumption that Ann may be my David’s mother, and that David and John may well be brothers if not cousins.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Quarto books included a mudmap of the village, much-amended over time. Combining this with my own examination of the valuation books I’ve made a couple of maps to show the houses and their occupants. (click to enlarge)

Anne Callaghan resided in house #17, which changed its number along the way from the number on the original mudmap #14 and the house book number of 20 then 19. She didn’t play musical houses – it was just the way they re-coded the sequencing. So where was house 17? Actually, it was either the house with the cat we cuddled, or the very one next door. Now why didn’t the cat tell me that outright?!

Courtown mudmap Pauleen GV

The mudmap based on occupants at the time of the published Griffith Valuation in 1853. John later moved to house 35 while David moved to house 34.

John Callaghan initially lived at house #15, two doors from Ann, but prior to the revision of the 1846 house list, he is shown on the other side of the quadrangle at #6. When John relocated, David Callaghan moved into John’s old house #15. Interestingly this occurred at the time of the 1865 revisions, so about the time he likely married. We had been standing just metres from where my ancestors lived!

In about 1868, John moved to a larger house in the same area, #35 where the family remained for many years. After John’s death in 1911, the tenancy is transferred first to his widow Catherine (1912 revision), then to son Pat (1926), after which it passed to Mary Redmond.

David makes a similar move to house #34 in 1901, and again the family remains there for many years passing to his daughter-in-law Kate Callaghan (1916) then his grandson David (1936), and later to a Mrs Sarah Mitchell (is she a relation or just the new tenant?). Once again, house #34 is either the house we visited or adjacent to it. While the original property tenancies were house only, by the time of the 1914-1935 revision lists, there are small land parcels being leased. Unfortunately the amendments and annotations on these proved a challenge too far for me, and not one worth pursuing.

Have I answered my relationship questions about the Callaghans? Well, no, not really. I still think David and John must be close kin and that Ann is likely the mother of one. She is almost certainly the widow who died in 1870. The transfers of tenancy confirm the linkages within each family as shown the 1901 and 1911 census data.

Are the valuation books a “silver bullet” for your research? Only to a point, though they can be invaluable. Unfortunately, there’s still nothing to say whether or how the various Callaghans are related….except maybe a DNA trail or local oral history which I’m exploring. Pending another feline encounter on another trip, perhaps.

And a final piece of amusement: we had just flown the long haul from Brisbane-Dubai-Dublin so were a tad weary on arrival at the Valuation Office. It was something of a shock to be told they were closing in 10 minutes. Now I knew my brain was befuddled but didn’t think it was quite that bad, or that I had my watch set incorrectly. Turns out the person at the desk was also confused – she was an hour ahead of herself. A heart-starter and then a bit of a chuckle.